Cane sugar is a natural sweetener, extracted from the juice of sugarcane plants, a tropical grass that is primarily cultivated in Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. This versatile and popular ingredient is widely used across the globe for its ability to enhance the taste and texture of various foods and beverages, from baked goods and confections to alcoholic drinks.
Cane sugar undergoes different levels of refinement processes, resulting in various forms such as raw, granulated, brown, and powdered sugar. In a home kitchen setting, cane sugar is a staple ingredient for adding sweetness and a touch of caramel-like flavor to recipes, as well as improving the structure and crumb of baked goods.
Cane sugar is a versatile and popular ingredient. When it comes to cooking with cane sugar, people often have questions on its ideal usage, health implications and substitutes, if it burns easily while caramelizing or if one type of cane sugar can be replaced with another in a recipe. One common mistake people make with cane sugar is assuming that all kinds of cane sugar acts the same in a recipe. For example, using granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar in certain recipes can disrupt the texture.
To get the most out of cane sugar, it's important to use the right type of sugar specified in the recipe. Granulated sugar is versatile and can be used in most recipes while brown sugar has a high moisture content and is ideal for baked goods. Also, knowing that cane sugar can burn easily while caramelizing, care should be taken to use a low heat and stir continuously.
A little known hack is that if you run out of brown sugar, you can make your own by mixing molasses with white sugar. Another one is you can make powdered sugar at home, by pulverizing granulated sugar until it’s a fine powder. This could be a lifesaver if a recipe calls for powdered sugar and you realize at the last moment that you are out of it.
What is raw sugar and how is it different from regular cane sugar?
Can I use cane sugar to make syrups and sauces?
Is cane sugar better than regular white sugar?
Can I use brown sugar instead of white sugar?
Does cane sugar burn easily?
How do I make my own brown sugar at home?
Can I use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar?
What is a good substitute for cane sugar?
Does cane sugar taste different than beet sugar?
How can cane sugar be used in vegan baking?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does cane sugar expire?
Unopened cane sugar can last indefinitely, as long as it's stored in a dry, cool place. Once opened, it should be used within two years for best quality, but it doesn't really go bad as long as it doesn't pick up any foreign odors or flavors. With homemade cane sugar (e.g. brown sugar made by mixing molasses and white sugar), if properly stored, it also lasts indefinitely. Frozen cane sugar can be tricky since freezing doesn't bring much benefit due to the low moisture content of sugar, but it can be kept in freezer theoretically indefinitely without affecting the taste or quality of the sugar.
How do you tell if cane sugar is bad?
Cane sugar doesn't spoil or turn rancid due to its low moisture content. However, it can absorb moisture from the air, causing it to harden (this is common with brown sugar). Although not a sign of spoilage, it can be inconvenient when you need to use it. Similarly, if it picks up odors from other items stored nearby, it's best to throw it out as these flavors can affect whatever you're using it for.
Tips for storing cane sugar to extend shelf life
• Always store your cane sugar in a cool, dry place away from any source of moisture or odors.
• Seal your sugar container tightly. This is crucial to prevent the sugar from absorbing moisture and other odors.
• For brown sugar, try storing it with a slice of bread or a couple of marshmallows in the packaging. Both will provide enough moisture to keep the sugar from hardening.
• If your cane sugar has hardened, place it in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a wet paper towel, and zap it for 20-30 seconds. This will soften the sugar, but remember to use it right away.